Thursday, March 6, 2008

For my mother...

I wrote this a while back...

She had a routine. She worked at the flower shop during the day, went home, greeted her trusty Golden Retriever Sassy, cooked dinner, and took Sassy for a walk in the woods behind her house. Life was predictable for Amy, life was good.

Tuesday started like every other Tuesday. Amy showered, packed her lunch, took Sassy for a quick walk and went to work. She loved working at the Flower Depot, creating dazzling flower arrangements to sell. She also designed the displays in the front windows. They were known throughout her tiny town as the most original and beautiful displays around. Color danced along the windows in blooms that seemed to last longer than anyone else’s flowers. Rumor had it she used magic to keep them alive for so long.

After a fulfilling day at work, Amy arrived home to the joyful barks of Sassy. With a smile on her face, she opened the door to find her best friend, tail wagging furiously, waiting for her. After feeding Sassy and grabbing a quick bite for herself, she picked up the leash, her dog jumping up excitedly in response.

They headed out the back door, both of them anxious to walk amongst the ancient trees behind the house. There was such a feeling of peace back there, the scents of nature seeping into their skin as they walked along the towering beauties. Enormous trees, easily a hundred feet tall, provided a cool canopy of shade along the path. Although there wasn’t an official walking path, Amy and Sassy had walked through it so many times they had made their own.

As they got deeper into the forest, the mottled spots of light guiding their way became dimmer. They usually walked for two hours – one hour into the forest and one hour back. During that time, Amy loved to tell Sassy all about her day – the interesting flowers the shop ordered and the wonderful people who praised her arrangements. She also told her about her most wistful dreams and her deepest desires. Amy desperately wished she could talk back. Sassy was her whole heart; her best friend in the world. “It’s starting to get dark girl, let’s turn back around and head home,” she said to Sassy.

With a woof, Sassy turned around and started walking back the way they came. Amy took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of deep, dark soil. This was the reason her blooms that lasted forever, a pinch of richly nourished earth added to each arrangement. It was magic all right, earth magic.

She told Sassy to wait as she pulled out a hand shovel and a plastic bag. She always chose a different place to dig up the soil she would take. She didn’t want to remove too much from one area and have the plants suffer from it. She thanked the earth, the trees, and the forest itself as she dug up a small piece of earth.

Every so often she thought she heard people whispering as she dug. She felt eyes on the back of her neck each time. But she had been doing it for so many years, she stopped looking around, knowing she would see no other human. It was actually comforting to her now.

As she stood up, Amy noticed a big, beautiful dragonfly sitting on a tree seedling nearby. She didn’t want to scare it away so she walked backwards a few steps and sat down, her back against one of the old trees of the forest. She loved all of nature and stopped to study it when she could. Sassy lay down with her head between her paws and looked at the dragonfly with an almost curious expression.

Amy noticed one of the dragonfly’s wings had twitched and saw there was a small tear in it. “Oh you poor thing! You probably can’t fly yourself to a sunny spot to get yourself warm,” Amy said aloud.

She moved very slowly towards the dragonfly with a finger outstretched. Its head moved wildly, but it didn’t fly away or hop to another plant. Amy knelt down, slowly putting her finger next to it.

“I’ll move you to a sunny spot if you’ll allow it,” she said to the beautiful, blue insect. She had never seen a dragonfly that big before, its wingspan easily the length of her hand.

The dragonfly jerked once, fanned its wings gently, and jumped up on her finger. With a smile that lit up her face, Amy slowly stood up. Sassy appeared beside her as they started walking towards home.

Amy talked to the dragonfly the whole way back, telling it how beautiful it was and how sorry she was to see its wing torn. She talked to it about her day, explaining how much she enjoyed her job, and how Sassy was her best friend in the whole world. Curiously, she noticed that the dragonfly’s head swung towards her when she spoke; almost like it was listening.

She heard whispers behind her as she walked along the path. She dismissed them, thinking the wind must have picked up and moved among the trees, making the leaves whisper their goodbyes.

As she neared the edge of the forest she saw a spot of light highlighting a small plant like a fancy diamond in a jewelry store window. She walked over to it so she could place the dragonfly in the warmth of the fading sun. She expected it to hop off of her finger and on to the plant as soon as she got close enough. Strangely, it didn’t jump off, even after she gently shook her hand trying to dislodge it. “C’mon little guy,” she said to it, “jump off and sit in the sun so you can heal your wing.”

A flash of light took her by surprise and she fell backwards, keeping her finger outstretched so the dragonfly wouldn’t get hurt by her fall. Her hand suddenly grew heavy but by what she had no idea why. She lay there, dazed, until a voice startled her.


Sassy, tangled in her leash, lay down and whined. Her eyes wide, she looked to her hand. Instead of the big, blue dragonfly she had carried for the past hour, there was a little winged man perched like a king on her finger. His wings were opalescent and almost the length of her arm but still held the shape of a dragonfly’s wings. His skin was so pale it looked like he was glowing. His vest was green, the color of a leaf in the height of summer, which matched well with his rich earth colored trousers.

Even more striking were his eyes. The same blue as the dragonfly, they were filled with such a deep wisdom it made her feel like he already knew everything about her. He was smiling, a twinkle in his eye showing his merriment at her open mouth and stunned expression.

“Human,” he said again in a voice that reverberated gently through the forest. She felt a sense of calm wash over her as the echoes died. “Wow,” was all she could squeak out, disbelief robbing her of her voice. Was there an honest-to-God fairy sitting on her hand? Yes, yes there was.

“I have watched you and your friend walk through these woods for years,” he said to her. “My name is unpronounceable in your tongue but you may call me Ash.” Amy whispered, “I’m Amy.”

She sat up, cupping the fairy in her palm so she wouldn’t drop him. She stared at him for what seemed like eternity until he spoke again. “You harvest my earth when you pass through my forest. What do you do with it?” “My apologies sir,” she said as she looked down nervously. “I use it to help my flowers last longer. I am sorry if I took what is yours.” Ash chuckled and the sound made Amy look at him, puzzled. “You respect my woods. There is no harm in the small quantity you take.”

Amy’s mind whirled as she tried to come to grips with what just happened. Why was Sassy just lying there? Did she get hurt? “Sassy come,” she said, as the worry snapped her out of her reverie. Sassy got up and took small steps over to her, careful to not get further tangled in her leash. As Sassy walked towards her, the leash vanished. Sassy stopped, unsure of what just happened. “Huh,” Amy heard someone say. She looked at Ash but his mouth was closed.

“No way,” Sassy said. She looked at Amy with the most incredulous look her canine face could manage, “I can talk!” As Amy stared at her longtime companion, shock made her mouth drop open again.

“You speak to her while you walk,” Ash said, drawing Amy’s gaze, “I thought you might like her to respond.” “This isn’t happening, this isn’t real,” Amy whispered to herself as her eyes glazed over. Her mind was spinning out of control, making her breath shallow and hard to catch.

“I assure you it is,” she heard Ash whisper. She put her empty hand to her head and rocked back and forth, her body’s primordial attempt at recapturing reality. “Ssshhhh. There is no reason to be alarmed Amy,” the fairy said.

Her eyes watered as her mind started to shut down. A warm, wet nose pushed through her hand and licked her face. The familiar scent of Sassy calmed her as she tried to grasp the situation. “I’m here,” Sassy said, “you’re ok.”

“But you’re talking to me,” she said between Sassy’s licks in a tight voice, “and there’s a fairy sitting on my hand and you’re talking to me.”, a hint of panic touching her eyes.

“I’ve wanted to speak to you since the day you got me,” Sassy said as she sat down in front of Amy. “You wished I could talk back to you, you’ve said so yourself a million times.”

“I’ve enjoyed your presence in my woods. I hoped I wouldn’t frighten you by revealing myself, I am sorry that I have,” Ash said to Amy, a look of genuine sadness creeping into his eyes. “I thought to reward your generous spirit by giving you what you said you most wanted. Do you no longer wish for your friend to speak?”

“I do. I did. I mean, I do,” Amy said, looking at him. She took a deep breath and shuddered as it left her. “This is just a little surreal, y’know?”

“We of the Fairy don’t often reveal ourselves to humans. It hasn’t been done in hundreds of years and I am breaking many of our laws by talking to you now,” Ash said to her, with a smirk on his face.

“I’ve known all along they were here but had no way to tell you,” Sassy said as she lay down. “They smell like the trees but different. I knew the fairy was testing you when I scented him instead of the dragonfly he looked like.”

“Your friend is right. Only those true of heart would try to save an injured insect,” Ash said. “Most humans see them as insignificant. They do not realize how each insect is necessary for life to continue. I guessed you would not think that way.”

Amy sat in silence, aware of the two pairs of eyes upon her. Her mind had come out of fight or flight mode and was slowly processing the last 10 minutes of her life. “I have so many questions,” Amy said as she tucked her legs underneath herself. “Are all the stories of fairies true? Do you really live forever? Am I going to end up like Rip VanWinkle?”

Ash’s head was thrown back as he heartily laughed at her questions, his wings fanning lightly to keep himself balanced. “You are such a treat human,” he said between gasps. “I will enjoy speaking to you.”

He fanned his wings faster, the light breeze moved wisps of her hair as he hovered over her palm. “I will answer your questions, but not today. The price for answers is your vow to never speak of the Fairy to another human. Nor may you tell them of your friend’s new ability,” Ash said, as he gently flew towards her face, hanging in mid-air at eye level.

“I promise,” Amy vowed. And she meant it.

“Anytime you are in my forest, say my name and I will meet you. I will join you on your walks if you wish it, answering your questions if I can.”

“Deal,” Amy said, sticking out her finger to shake his hand, which was the size of her fingernail. “Until then Amy,” Ash said with a bow. With a pop he was gone.

“Are you OK?” Sassy asked as she stood up, the leash suddenly re-appearing attached to her collar but no longer tangled in her legs. “I’m fine,” Amy said, looking at her best friend. She got up, dusting the dirt from her clothing. “I guess you don’t need that anymore,” she said as she took the leash off of Sassy, “now I can just tell you to stay near me.”

“That’s the funny thing, I wouldn’t have left you in the first place,” Sassy said with a tilt of her head, panting in a way that looked like a grin.

They walked out of the forest, side-by-side, each lost in their own thoughts. The silence continued until they got to the door to the house.

“What a weird day.”

“You said it.”

“I can’t wait for tomorrow!”

“Neither can I.”

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